In the world of business, if you want to improve customer service and run things in the best, smoothest way possible, then processes are everything.
True, the very word “process” can sound very tedious. “I’ve been here for so many years. I know how things are done. Why do I need to follow a lengthy process?” Of course, the simplest reason is that not everyone has the knowledge and expertise you have.
If you are somewhat “allergic” to processes, here are a few things to keep in mind. These scenarios can help you appreciate the importance of tweaking processes.
- Everyone is different, with different sets of knowledge and experience.
- What you can do flawlessly may not be easy for your colleague to complete with just as much ease.
- It took you time to understand the system…new employees don’t share that advantage.
- Some people work well under pressure, others don’t. Some follow a systematic, step-by-step approach, others may take on the problem all at once.
- Not having a process to standardize workflows can be chaotic, especially when two individuals who have different styles of working have to work together.
Now apply these scenarios to customer service. Hopefully, it becomes obvious how having a good process in place is very important to improve customer service. The mess that can occur in the scenarios mentioned above can be managed internally. However, they spell disaster if they prop up while handling customer queries.
Remember, great customer support is a big factor that will decide your company’s future. Microsoft found that 95% of consumers felt customer support can influence their loyalty to a brand. There are many ideas for improving the customer service process. Listed below are five steps to consider as you seek to improve your business.
Improve Customer Service Through Time-Tested Process Improvements
While the ideas presented below are all tried and true, not all of them may be applicable in your context. Feel free to adapt and tweak these to suit your specific requirements.
1) Bring together your most experienced employees.
So many times we look outward to external agencies to help us with solutions for internal issues. However, we forget that some of the best ideas can come from experienced minds within. If you have made the decision to improve customer service, Start by consulting your experienced employees for ideas.
You might be surprised to see the great ideas that come from your own employees. After all, they’ve been in your system for a long time and have seen the company through many of its phases. Who better to help you with great ideas to improve customer service? Create a task force with your experienced teammates, hold regular discussions with them, and collate the information and ideas that come from these meetings. Let this serve as your basic body of ideas.
2) Conduct research.
This one’s a no-brainer. How can you improve customer service if you don’t know about it in any depth? True, it can be confusing to know where to begin. Here are two things you can try to get started on your research:
- Find out what others are doing. Start with your competitors. There’s so much information to gain from studying the other players in your industry. You need to find out what they are doing right and where they are lacking.
- This is not to say that you should copy their practices, but you are likely to understand the mechanisms of customer service better.
- Study the big names. Seek to understand what some of the most popular brands are doing right. They may not be relevant to your industry but, hey, they are at that position for a reason and great customer service is almost certainly a significant contributing factor. Understanding the customer service processes they employ can be of great value to your research.
3) Define your objectives and measures.
Research can only tell you what someone else is doing. The needs of your business are unique to you. Take the time to define the objectives and goals for which you are trying to improve customer service. To support these objectives, you will need to spell out a couple of KPIs that your customer support team will have to work toward. Some essential KPIs you can start off with might include:
- turnaround time for problem-solving;
- customer feedback;
- common areas of complaint;
- frequency of complaints; and
- the number of escalations.
These are just a few measures that are used by many companies. Your company may have a unique set of KPIs relevant to you. Sit with your experienced employees and brainstorm the right KPI set for you.
4) Make effective use of technology.
Customer queries can be of two types. The first one requires the attention of a live customer support representative. The second kind is those that can be solved without the involvement of a customer support representative. Which do you think is the most common type of complaint?
That’s right, the most common complaint mechanism are those that don’t need the involvement of a customer support rep. In fact, a study by Accenture showed that about 80% of customer engagements can be dealt with by artificial intelligence (AI) bots.
Which of the two mechanisms do you think customer support staff spends the most time on? Again, the second type. Wouldn’t it be amazing if customer support involvement could be redirected completely towards solving the first kind of customer queries?
Nowadays, that possibility is within reach. You might already have come across customer support services where you are in fact chatting with a bot and your entire query was resolved without an actual person on the other side. This is now possible through the use of AI. AI can reduce your customer service costs by approximately 30%. Customer support software such as Acquire is powerfully driven by AI and can take customer service to a whole new level. Additionally, many CRM packages feature video chat, live co-browsing, and more. All of these have significantly improved the customer experience of their clients.
Another example would be Paykickstart’s Knowledge Base. This product lets client companies create exhaustive resources that customers can access for solving their problems without even needing to contact customer support. If you aren’t leveraging technology to improve customer service, you really are positioning yourself to lose the race.
5) Implement, measure, repeat.
Let’s say you don’t have the time or ability to follow any of the above options. Your last resort is to go ahead with ideas that you think are suitable.
Of course, you should at least discuss these ideas with a couple of other experts even if you can’t launch full-blown research before you implement them. But here’s the important part: measure your outcomes. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking your ideas are fail-proof and leave outcomes unmeasured. You need to be certain that your ideas are actually helping you improve customer service. If they aren’t, you’ll have to rethink your strategies. If they are, tweak them to find the optimal way to implement them.
For example, if you notice that being informal with your customers is working great for you, don’t just stop at that. Try a little more. Maybe you could address your customers by their first names, wish them a great weekend, or maybe even add an emoji or two to email correspondence. Even the best methods can be improved upon.
Final Thoughts to Improve Customer Service
There is no one, never-fails roadmap to improve customer service. It’s all about giving it your best and trying again and again until you reach a great outcome.
Hopefully, the five processes listed above will help you on that journey.